143 Moodie to Burton

Minute CANBERRA, 2 February 1949

SECRET

A REGIONAL ARRANGEMENT FOR SOUTH-EAST ASIA

It seems clear from a telegram [1] I saw yesterday that we will have to define our position. It seems equally clear that we will have to try to cut in half the area represented at the Asian Conference.

Although we have not received the relevant documentation regarding the Prime Ministers' Conference in London, it does appear from cable E.792 to the High Commissioner's Office in London, dated 13th October, that the United Kingdom prepared a paper PMM.(48)1 [3] on defence policy. In this paper it was stated that:-

' ... it has not been possible to achieve collective security under the United Nations, and that the Western Powers feel that it is of paramount importance that all like-minded Governments should co-operate in building up collective security from the angle of regional security as provided for by the Charter.'

The cable continued:-

'The United Kingdom statement with regard to the need and urgency for a regional plan for Western Europe, the foundation of which was laid by the Brussels Treaty and in which the Western European countries, United States of America and the United Kingdom should closely co-operate, is in principle in accordance with the Australian Government's views with regard to the Pacific region'.

This would seem to be ample justification for our tackling a regional organisation under Article 52 of the Charter.

Arrangements for co-operation in Empire defence, since they do not relate to a particular region, have been justified under Article 51. The present position with regard to the Commonwealth countries in South East Asia is that both India and Pakistan have been invited to join in the Australian defence machinery and have been informed that we would be happy to take part in theirs. Neither Government has so far committed itself.

We should at some stage take the whole matter up with the Defence Department and they would have some difficulty, in view of the foregoing, in justifying a straight out refusal to participate in a regional arrangement for South East Asia. [4]

1 Presumably cablegram 94 dispatched on 31 January 1949, summarismg Document 142.

2 See Document 101.

3 See Document 100.

4 Burton annotated the minute- 'It will be decided without Defence. Minister will make statement in House.'

[AA:A1068/7, DL47/5/6]